Distinction in travel journalism
Is independent travel journalism important to you?
Click here to keep it independent

16 Nov, 2015

Malaysian training to boost Muslim-friendly Hospitality Services

Compiled by Imtiaz Muqbil & Sana Shamsi

A compilation of progressive, positive, inspiring and motivating events and developments in the world of Islam for the week ending 16 November 2015 (04 Safar 1437). Pls click on any of the headlines below to go to the story.




malaysia logo

Click on the image to get a full list of all the great festivals and events right across Malaysia this year.

The fabulous Malaysia Year of Festivals 2015, or MyFEST 2015, is witnessing an endless celebration of festivals, events and happenings. MyFEST 2015 is set to make Malaysia the top-of-the-mind tourist destination, encouraging tourists to stay longer in order to enjoy the festival offerings nationwide. Themed “Endless Celebrations”, the year-long calender is packed with festivities of every genre; for instance cultural festivals, shopping extravanganzas, international acclaimed events, eco-tourism events, arts, music showcases, food promotion and other themed events. The Malaysia Year of Festivals 2015 campaign leverages on smart partnerships in line with the National Blue Ocean Strategy that nurtures stakeholders engagement, support and participation. The symbiosis enables Malaysia’s tourism efforts to be competitive and to remain one of the prime contributors to the socio-economic development of the nation. As Malaysia is blessed with various cultures, the new campaign seeks to showcase and celebrate Malaysia’s bountiful, diverse cultures and various festivities. The design for Malaysia Year of Festivals 2015 logo depicts a traditional musical instrument known as the Rebana Ubi. The drum is a musical instrument which can be associated with Malaysia’s multicultural society, in line with the spirit of 1Malaysia. Therefore, the logo design reflects an important part of the country’s heritage, traditions and culture.

For a full listing of all the great festivals, activities and events this year, pls click on this link


The Islamic Tourism Centre in Malaysia has launched a vibrant new website presenting Malaysia as a prime destination for Islamic tourism and a global halal hub. The website offers a wealth of information on Mosque trails, Islamic Museums, Ramadan & Eid-ul Fitr, Muslim-Friendly Tour Highlights, as well as a Muslim Visitor’s Guide, Halal Directory and Souvenirs Directory. Located strategically at the heart of Southeast Asia, Malaysia is well-known for its natural beauty and diverse cultural landscape. At its social core are three of Asia’s oldest civilisations – Malay, Chinese and Indian – as well as the ethnic communities of Sabah and Sarawak, resulting in a unique and inspiring blend of cultures. With an abundance of halal food, prayer facilities and Islamic attractions, Malaysia perfectly caters to the needs of Muslim travellers. The ITC plays a pivotal role in bringing Malaysia to the forefront of Islamic tourism. It works with industry players to build their capacity in Islamic tourism, thus ensuring that the needs of Muslim visitors are better served. ITC has also taken several initiatives in standardising industry’s best practices through research, seminars, workshops and industry outreach programmes. Now is the perfect time to experience the country’s multitude of Muslim-friendly tourism products – Islamic architectural heritage, halal gastronomic delights, vibrant Islamic festivals and world-class Islamic events – all guaranteed to give visitors an incredible time.

Click here to see the fabulous new website

For more information about what makes Malaysia one of the most popular destinations in the Islamic world, as well as on planning your next holiday or MICE event in Malaysia, please click: http://www.tourism.gov.my/ or http://www.tourismmalaysia.gov.my

facebook: http://www.facebook.com/friendofmalaysia

twitter: http://twitter.com/tourismmalaysia

Blog: http://blog.tourism.gov.my


Watch Islamic Travel Newswire Executive Editor Imtiaz Muqbil’s landmark TEDx lecture on “Peace through Tourism” on YouTube — the first travel industry journalist in Bangkok invited to speak at this prestigious forum. CLICK HERE.




Malaysian funds for Oxford Fellowship to advance Muslim studies

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 16 (Bernama) — The Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies, a Recognised Independent Centre of the University of Oxford established by Royal Charter under the patronage of HRH The Prince of Wales, is delighted to announce the establishment of a new Fellowship, to be known as the Azman Hashim Fellowship.

The Azman Hashim Fellowship will enable a senior scholar, at professorial level, to be appointed at the Centre and is endowed in perpetuity, in honour of the financier and philanthropist, Tan Sri Azman Hashim. The Centre wishes to put on record its appreciation and gratitude for this generous benefaction, which will enable and support generations of research and scholarship in the years ahead.

The Azman Hashim Fellowship will be awarded to a scholar studying any aspect of contemporary Muslim societies and will be an important addition to the Centre’s academic programmes in Oxford, which include a number of research and teaching fellowships, in addition to its scholarship and visiting fellowship programmes and other academic activities in Oxford, nationally and internationally.

Applications to the Azman Hashim Fellowship will be invited in due course in accordance with the academic procedures of the Centre and will be open to scholars from around the world.

SOURCE : Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies

For more information, please contact:

Email : richard.makepeace@oxcis.ac.uk. Web : www.oxcis.ac.uk

Back to top

Iran seeks revival of caviar industry in post-sanctions era

Arab Times – 14 November, 2015 – On the shores of the Caspian Sea, an ambitious project is underway to produce a pricey delicacy that could boost Iran’s economy as sanctions ease: caviar. Iran, once the world’s biggest exporter of the luxury food, sold over 40 tons of sturgeon eggs in 2000. Exports plunged to just 1 ton last year due to dwindling fish stocks and economic sanctions imposed by world powers in response to Iran’s nuclear program.

After Tehran struck a landmark deal this summer to curb its nuclear ambitions in exchange for lifting sanctions — including those on caviar — some in Iran are now counting on a revival in exports of the exclusive eggs.

“We hope that as a result of the Iranian government’s interaction with the world, the path will be opened for us to export our products abroad and bring in foreign currency earnings. It does not make a difference where we export to, the United States or Europe,” said Ishaq Islami, manager of the private Ghareh Boron Caviar Fish Farm in the coastal village of Goldasht.

The farm and two nearby facilities are breeding half a million sturgeon fingerlings a year, filling its pools with water pumped in from the Caspian Sea.

Islami began the $ 100 million project in 2005 but it takes at least 12 years for sturgeon to mature and produce caviar. About 110,000 are beluga species that produce prized silver-gray eggs, the world’s most expensive caviar.

The fish farm aims to export 30 tons of salt-cured caviar and 2,000 tons of sturgeon meat in three years. Islami expects to earn $ 90 million a year based on an average price of $ 3,000 a kilogram (about $ 1,360 a pound) for caviar. The United States, Europe and Japan have traditionally been Iran’s biggest export markets.

“Our annual projected hard currency earnings in 2018 will be equal to the value of two days of Iran’s crude oil exports,” he said. OPEC member Iran is currently exporting about one million barrels of oil per day, with the price of US benchmark crude trading below $42 a barrel.

Caviar production fits with the Iranian government’s plan to reduce reliance on crude oil revenues and build up a broader range of exports.

As part of the nuclear deal, trade and banking sanctions imposed over Iran’s nuclear program will be lifted, and the US will resume imports of certain Iranian products including carpets, pistachios and caviar that were halted in 2010. Other US sanctions unrelated to the nuclear program will remain in place.

“Lifting sanctions, specifically banking restrictions, will facilitate caviar exports and help the industry flourish in Iran,” industry analyst Nasser Oktaei said. “The US is obviously one of the world’s biggest caviar importers. Iran caviar exports to the US, if materialized, will inject a new blood into the industry and bring in the much-needed hard currency.”

The 80,000-square meter (860,000-sq foot) Ghareh Boron farm is one of three facilities run by Islami to raise sturgeon, which are threatened by overfishing, pollution and destruction of spawning sites. These factors contributed to the vast decline of sturgeon stocks in the Caspian Sea, the source of 90 percent of the world’s caviar. A temporary global ban on wild sturgeon was imposed in 2001 amid fears that the beluga species was facing extinction. Caviar exports are now subject to quotas while the five countries on the Caspian Sea have agreed to extend the ban on commercial fishing to allow wild stocks to replenish.


The farm in Goldasht, one of several communities bearing the name in Iran, sits 310 kms (190 miles) north of Tehran. Sturgeon up to 2 meters long swim lazily in large concrete pools filled with murky sea water, eating food pellets that workers throw in by the handful.

Hasan Habibnejad, the provincial fisheries chief, says the facility has created some 200 jobs.

“We hope this facility will turn into the capital of the world’s caviar,” said Hasan Habibnejad, the provincial fisheries chief. Islami has bigger plans for his fish farm. “In addition to exporting female eggs and sturgeon meat, we will also produce oil and cosmetics. Sturgeon skin can also make good leather. Its intestine can be turned into sutures. Nothing is wasted. We also plan to turn our facility into a tourism attraction where customers will be able to buy the prized caviar and other products,” he said.

Several small-scale sturgeon farms have popped up across Iran in recent years, including one facility in a desert town in central Iran and another in Qom, Iran’s religious capital, all hoping to grab a share of the expected caviar revival.

“Banks didn’t give me loans and even the authorities were opposed to breeding sturgeon in the desert,” said Qom farmer Mohammad Taqi Barkhordari, who filled his pools with salt water pumped from wells. “It worked. Nothing is impossible if you have will and determination.”

Back to top

Tehran Air to start operation by March 2016

Tehran Times – 14 November, 2015 – A new Iranian airline, Tehran Air, will start operation by the end of the current Iranian calendar year (March 2016), said its managing director Mohammad-Ali Ilkhani.

“With 11 Airbus 340s and 321s of less than 15 years of age, Tehran Air will operate national, regional, and international flights,” the Tasnim news agency quoted Ilkhani as saying on Friday.

The establishment of the airline started one and a half year ago, he said, adding that the airline has currently four Airbus 340s and seven Airbus 321s.

Earlier in July, Iranian Transport and Urban Development Minister Abbas Akhoundi said Iranian airlines were negotiating with a number of large international plane makers to renovate their aviation fleets.

He added that the country will need 400 new passenger planes in the next 10 years.

Purchasing this number of planes will cost the country at least $ 20 billion, he noted.

Back to top

Mashad to be introduced as Islamic world cultural capital

Tehran, Nov 11, IRNA – As per a ratification of the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ISESCO) in Baku Summit in 2010, Mashad will be introduced as the second cultural capital of Islamic world in 2017.

Deputy minister of culture and Islamic guidance for development and resources affairs Ali Asghar Karandish told the 21st Press and News Agencies Exhibition on Wednesday that Isfahan was presented as the Islamic world cultural capital in 2006.

‘We seize the opportunity to introduce Mashad’s cultural capacities and capabilities in the best manner to the Muslim world,’ he said.

Karandish further noted that the ceremony for naming the second Islamic world cultural capital will be held in presence of Minister of Culture and the Islamic Guidance Ali Jannati.

Mashad, northeastern city of the country, was Iran’s capital during Afsharian Dynasty. It is the second big and populated city in Iran following Tehran.

It hosts over 27 million Iranian and two million foreign pilgrims to holy shrine of Imam Reza (AS), eighth Imam of Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) Infallible Household.

ISESCO was established by the Organization of the Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in May 1979.

With 52 member states, ISESCO is one of the largest international Islamic organizations and specializes in the fields of education, science, and culture. Its headquarters are in Rabat, Morocco.

Back to top

Tunisia hosts Int’l Meeting on Mediterranean Architectural Heritage

7 November 2015 – Tunis Afrique Presse – Monastir — The 6th International Meeting on Mediterranean Architectural Heritage (RIPAM 6) held on the theme “Heritage Interaction between the two Shores of Mediterranean: for Better Integration,” closed on Friday evening in Monastir.

The recommendations of RIPAM 6 focused on the need to pay more attention to policies and operations to protect and revitalise the different forms of heritages, increased involvement of populations concerned in heritage preservation operations and more controlled enhancement of heritage to preserve the identity of territories and the authenticity of communities and populations’ attachment to their heritage.

Back to top

Thousands use MuslimsAreNotTerrorist hashtag to combat Islamophobia

15 Nov 2015 – Paris, (IINA) – Champions of religious pluralism around the world used the hashtag MuslimsAreNotTerrorist to refute the idea that Friday’s attacks in Paris reflect the views of most Muslims or mainstream interpretations of the Islamic faith, Huffington Post online news reported.

The hashtag was trending on Twitter on Saturday, with more than 267,000 mentions.

Many of the tweets are from Muslims, while others are from people in other communities opposed to generalizations about Islam and its practitioners. A similar message from a New York resident that was inspired by his conversation with a Muslim cab driver has gone viral on Twitter.

It is noteworthy that France has declared a nation-wide state of emergency, decided to close its borders, and deployed its army in and around Paris after more than 150 people were killed and scores of others injured in multiple shootings, a 100-person hostage crisis, and explosions rocked the French capital late on Friday, according to media reports.

Back to top

Karachi University Business School to launch Islamic banking programs in 2016

Sunday 15 Nov 2015, Karachi, (IINA) – Karachi University Business School (KUBS) chairperson Dr Danish Ahmed Siddiqui announced that the school is launching different diploma and degree programmes in Islamic banking from the next year to impart knowledge on Islamic banking and finance, The Express Tribune online news reported on Sunday.

“We are starting specialization in MBA degree from January and a separate programme for Islamic banking next year,” he said, adding that the aim is to facilitate the students from religious schools and madrassas to bridge the gap between traditional and modern knowledge.

“Higher studies in Islamic banking and finance will give both of them the opportunities to improve their own knowledge and living standards and the lives and afterlives of others,” he added.

Faculty of Management and Administrative Sciences Dean Professor Dr Khalid Iraqi noted that the programme has been approved by the department’s board of studies, faculty of management sciences and the academic council of the university.

Back to top

Algerian Calligrapher Wins Sultan Qaboos Award for Culture, Arts and Literature

12 November 2015 – Algerie Presse Service (Algiers) — The Sultan Qaboos Award for Culture, Arts and Literature, in the field of calligraphy, was given to Algerian Mohamed Bensaid Cherifi, said the Sultan Qaboos Higher for Culture and Sciences, cited by the Omani press.

The works of Mohamed Bensaid, a prominent Algerian calligrapher, include the writing of the Holy Quran, the design of Algerian bank notes as well as higher education diplomas and scientific research.

Trained by great Turkish and Egyptian calligraphers, he won several prizes and distinctions in Algeria, Iraq and the United Arab Emirates.

Born in Ghardaia in 1935, Mohamed Bensaid Cherifi studied at El Guerara High School (1956) before obtaining a diploma from the Arab Calligraphy of Cairo in 1962 and working as a calligraphy teacher at the Fine Arts Higher Institute (Algiers).

408 candidates participated in the competition, including 83 for Arab calligraphy, 119 for Arab literature and 206 for kids’ literature.

The Sultan Qaboos award aims at promoting Arab culture, arts and literature.

Back to top

Gambia Selected for ‘Bike for Africa 2016’

12 November 2015 – The Daily Observer (Banjul) – In their quest to promoting and bringing people together especially in Africa, the management of Brussels Airlines, in collaboration with The Gambia Tourism Board (GTBoard) has selected destination Gambia for the Brussels Airlines-organised Bike for Africa 2016 sporting event due in January.

The Bike for Africa is Brussels Airlines’ tourism event held every two years in any selected country in Africa. The move is meant to create fun especially for the children of Africa.

Speaking at a press briefing, Ousainou Senghore, Admin and Finance controller, deputising for the director general of GTBoard, disclosed that previous editions of these biking trips took place in countries like Rwanda, Uganda, and Burundi, and now Senegal and The Gambia already confirmed for the January 27th and February 3rd 2016.

On the Destination Gambia routes for the biking trip, he disclosed that they have already identified places and points of start which incude: Karang to Juffureh; Juffureh to Ferry Port, Banjul; Banjul to Foni Berefet and from Foni Berefet to Senegambia.

He however assured of successful event in destination Gambia, as necessary logistics have been put in place for the 2016 event.

“Partnering with the Brussels Airlines is an opportunity particularly in terms of promoting the destination and what The Gambia can offer as well.”

Senghore revealed that a television crew from Belgium and famous Belgian musicians will as well accompany the bikers to the country.

He thus applauded the management of the Airline for choosing Gambia for Bike for Africa 2016 and also expressed his board’s delight in associating with them.

Kevin Constant, country manager, Brussels Airlines, expressed his admiration as regard the cyclists coming to the destination next January, saying this is an opportunity to bring The Gambia into sportlight on the map and show the world that the country is one of the most beautiful destinations to visit.

The Brussels Airlines country manager dilated on dream of the airlines and the scheduled Bike for Africa event, as it is their dream to bring people together in a biking trip on this fascinating continent.

He explained that every two years, b.foundation for Africa generates its masterpiece ‘Bike for Africa,’ a mountain bike trip for Brussels Airlines employees and corporate partners, raising funds for the good cause.

The largest number of the bikers, he went on will be members of staff of Brussels Airlines; Belgians sponsored companies and general managers of some Belgian companies which will include the CEO of the Brussels Airlines.

Constant further indicated that from January 27th through February 3rd 2016, Bike for Africa 3rd edition, which will be co-hosted by The Gambia and Senegal, is an opportunity to support West Africa in particular the two countries after the contagious Ebola virus crisis in the region.

The event he added, is a ‘unique’ opportunity to put these countries in the spotlight and to complement the amazing efforts of the Ministry of Tourism and Culture (MoTC) and Gambia Tourism Board (GTBoard).

Melyn Win Engineer disclosed that 70 bikers of young and old; female and male will participate in the biking trip, adding that the bikers will bike around 450 and 500 kilometers between somewhere in Senegal and the end point in The Gambia.

The event he said, apart from their humanitarian cause, it also gives motivation to their bikers to gather fund for the cause; see the beautiful parts of the country. “Also Brussels Airlines wants to continue promoting the destination to attract more tourists and visitors to the country,” he said.

Back to top

LEAD STORY: Malaysian training to boost Muslim-friendly Hospitality Services

The Department of Standards Malaysia (DSM) and ITC, for the first time, will be collaborating to jointly organise a capacity building programme to promote the new standard on Islamic tourism,”MS2610:2015 – Muslim Friendly Hospitality Services Standard – Requirements”.

malaysia logo

Click on the image to get a full list of all the great festivals and events right across Malaysia this year.

This event will be held as follows:

Date / time : Wednesday, 2 December 2015, 9.00 am – 5.00 pm

Venue : Putra World Trade Centre (PWTC), Kuala Lumpur

This programme will be attended by YB Datuk Mas Ermieyati Samsudin, Deputy Minister of Tourism and Culture Malaysia who will be delivering opening speech and officially launching the standard.

The Islamic Tourism Masterclass for Muslim Friendly Hospitality Services Standard is a developmental programme designed to engage, guide and interact with the industry players on the practicality and adoptability aspects of the Malaysia’s new Islamic tourism standard MS2610:2015 – Muslim Friendly Hospitality Services Standard.

To kick start the programme with a broad perspective, audience will be presented with an overview of the current state of the Islamic tourism sector, followed by an introduction to the government initiative in standardisation and what it means to the tourism industry.

The afternoon session will have 2 breakout parallel sessions of masterclass with the first one focusing on accommodation and the second will be dedicated to travel packaging and guiding.

Back to top

Morocco Launches New Development Model in South

7 November 2015 – Maghreb Arabe Presse – Laayoune – King Mohammed VI, accompanied by Prince Moulay Rachid, chaired, on Saturday in Laayoune, the launch ceremony of the new development model in the southern provinces, an integrated development vision based on an objective analysis of the situation in these provinces.

A real revolution in terms of management and governance, this model, whose launch coincides with the celebration by the Moroccan people of the 40th anniversary of the Green March, will help lay the bases for an integrated policy promoting the Sahara as an economic hub and a link between Morocco and the African continent.

At his arrival at the Meshwar square where the ceremony is being held, the sovereign saluted the Moroccan flag while the national anthem was playing and reviewed a detachment of the Royal Guard which paid the honors.

Afterwards, the monarch awarded royal wissams to several Moroccan and foreign figures on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the Green March.

Hassad underlined that this new model, which puts the citizen at the center of its priorities, is based on the principles of participation, inclusion, responsible governance and sustainability.

This new model will contribute to the establishment of a new development dynamic promoting the creation of jobs, encouraging private initiative and putting the region at the service of citizens, the interior minister said.

The Economy minister stressed that this new model, totaling 77 billion dirhams, seeks to create centers of competitiveness and relies on main pillars as economic development, social promotion, good governance, sustainability and reinforcement of connectivity.

Economically, it provides for the restructuring of the phosphate sector through the project “Phosboucraa for industrial development”, the promotion of the agricultural and fisheries sector and the development of environment-friendly tourism, said Boussaid.

Socially, the new development model for the southern provinces lays down provisions for building the Laayoune University Hospital Center and a town with high-tech industrial facilities in Foum El Oued, and promoting the Hassani culture to make it a lever for local development.

As for the section of “sustainability and connectivity”, the new model focuses on three main goals namely the protection of water and fisheries resources, the development of renewable energy, the preservation of diversity and natural systems, and the reinforcement of the southern provinces’ connection with the Kingdom’s provinces and prefectures as well as with the rest of the world.

President of the Laayoune-Sakia Al Hamra region Hamdi Ould Errachid presented the 2016-2021 development project for the Laayoune-Sakia Al Hamra which will involve the provinces of Laayoune, Smara, Boujdour and Tarfaya.

Hamdi Ould Errachid expressed, on his behalf and that of the region’s populations, his loyalty and unwavering attachment to the Alawite Throne, as well as his pride over this royal visit.

The managing director of the Sherifian Phosphate Office Mustapha Terrab underlined that the Office intends, as part of the new development model for the southern provinces, to construct a new industrial complex for fertilizer production (16.8bln MAD) and build a town with high-tech industrial facilities in Foum El Oued (2 bln MAD) which will host the Mohammed VI multidisciplinary university of Laayoune, a high school of excellence and a capacity-building center.

Speaking on this occasion, chairwoman of employers’ association CGEM Miriem Bensaleh-Cheqroun said that CGEM will back up the implementation of the new development model through the mobilization of investments and job creation in these provinces.

Worth 5.4 bln MAD, the CGEM initiative provides for carrying out 59 projects in the different sectors (energy, real estate, trade, services, transportation, education, health) which will generate 10,300 jobs on completion.

Equipment minister Aziz Rebbah presented the redevelopment project of the National road n1 between Tiznit and Dakhla (8.5 bln MAD). This project, which will benefit populations in the regions of Souss-Massa, Guelmim-Oued Noun, Laayoune-Sakia El Hamra and Dakhla-Oued Eddahab, will be carried out within six years and will concern around 1,055 km.

Agriculture minister Aziz Akhannouch said that two structuring projects will be implemented, as part of the new model, and will enable to give new momentum to agricultural economy in the region of Laayoune-Sakia El Hamra.

The two projects concern the agricultural upgrading of 1,000 hectares in Boujdour (465 mln MAD) and the development of the solidarity-based agriculture program in the region of Laayoune-Sakia El Hamra (1.1 bln MAD).

Health minister El Houssaine El Ouardi noted that the university hospital center (CHU) which will be built in Laayoune (1.2 bln MAD) will offer 3rd generation services. With a capacity of 500 beds, the reference hospital center will include poles of excellence in the various specialties (mother-child, oncology, psychiatry..)

The sovereign chaired, afterwards, the signing ceremony of five agreements on the implementation of the new development model for the southern provinces.

Nearly 4,000 people attended this ceremony, including the head of government, the speakers of the two houses of parliament, HM the King’s advisors, government members, elected members, dignitaries and chiefs of tribes of the southern provinces.

At the end of the ceremony, HM the King offered a luncheon in honor of the present personalities, chaired by HRH Prince Moulay Rachid.

Back to top

Uganda: Water, the Pristine Beauty for Tourism

8 November 2015 – The Monitor (Kampala) – There is something beautiful about water. The blue, tending into green waters is relaxing to the eye as the breeze that sweeps off, and with it, attracts the moving waves.

Water gives your favourite international tourism destinations that magical outlook. From Mombasa, Seychelles, Mauritius, Hawaii and even Egypt, water is one of the stunning charms.

Closer home, the River Nile offers some of the nerve-tickling sports such as water rafting, which rush the adrenaline. Sometimes it does not matter if you can swim; the adventure in rafting the water is priceless.

Down south in Mombasa is more tourism business. The rich, wealthy and fans of the finer things in life, get together to take life a bit slower. From Sarova Whitesands Resort to Serena Beach Resort and Spa, Mombasa? to Swahili Beach Resort, a fluent language of hospitality is spoken in deeds.

These cool resorts have facilities along shorelines for tourists to enjoy the serenity of the coast. At Whitesands, you will enjoy belly dancers at dusk at the coastline and by fireplaces.

And Forodhani…

An Archipelago in the Indian Ocean in Zanzibar’s Stone Town is Forodhani, a busy place in the evenings as tourists come together to enjoy culinary adventures that the coastal town has to offer.

Earlier on in the evening, a group of agile boys get showy as they dive into one of the shallower parts of the Indian Ocean. They are a sight to marvel at, and tourists take positions to take photographs of the half-naked youngsters.

The Seychelles is another destination where photos or videos of palm trees, sand and water will leave you hungering for a trip to the archipelago of 115 islands. Through your hotel rooms, if you get one adjacent to the ocean, you will marvel at the beauty.

The same goes for Mombasa, Africa’s beach country. It is right in the middle of the pristine white sand beach of Watamu. One of the places you may want to visit alongside Watamu is Hemingways Resort where the crystal blue ocean opens up the beauty of the coastline.

At one of the points at the resort, tourists carry out fishing. If not, they enjoy taking a swim or walking through the water, on the swallower ends or simply sit by the ocean. You can choose to lie on the sands and let the beautiful waitresses serve you a drink, soft or frothy.

While you lay your head on a pillow at night, there is a sensation that will hit you, of fresh cut lilies and roses that line some of the hotel fences. Again the sound of waves gently hitting against each other could be a good reason to lull you to sleep.

Back to top

Gambia: Promising Season – More Tourists Arrive

9 November 2015 – The Point (Banjul) – A flight carrying one hundred and ninety tourists Friday landed at Banjul International Airport, making it the fourth flight to arrive for the 2015/16 tourist season. Speaking to journalists shortly after the aircraft landed, Adama Cham, statistics manager, Gambia Tourism Board, thanked both Alkamba Tour Operator and Rainbow Tour for collaborating with The Gambia Tourism Board to bring more tourists from Poland.

“We were here last week to receive the first flight from the UK, and we are here to witness the first tourist arrivals from Poland, which is another development for this year’s tourist season,” he said.

He added that Poland is another special market for The Gambia, in addition to The Gambia’s traditional markets, which have been the UK, Sweden and other European countries.

The GTBoard statistics manager told journalists that in 2013, the Minister of Tourism, who was then the director of The Gambia Tourism Board, went with a high-powered delegation to Poland to market the destination, which led to receiving a flight from that country.

This means that they have seen the efforts of the Minister and his team, he said.

“Currently, our team is in the WTM and they are in Russia. We are trying to diversify our market and Poland is a key target and potential market for The Gambia,” he noted.

The Gambia is a perfect destination and he was really glad with the number of tourists received, he added.

Kebba Drammeh, director of operations at Alkamba Tour, said that last year the Polish people were not in The Gambia due to the Ebola crisis, but a year before it was a very good season, adding that “this year the bookings are very good”.

He added that Alkamba is bringing tourists and, as tour operators, they are in charge of the flight, hotel accommodation and other arrangements on behalf of Rainbow in Poland.

Mr Drammeh disclosed that the flight will be coming every Friday night, as this was the first flight from the Eastern European country. He said they are looking forward to seeing more flights as they continue to do promotional marketing to get more destinations on board.

He said Eastern Europe had not been too involved in tourism, but they have been able to get countries from there due to marketing done by GTB in collaboration with other stakeholders.

They would continue to go in for more markets like Russia and sooner or later they would market The Gambia to other destinations, he added.

“At the moment, we are not differentiating between low spenders and high spenders, but the best thing is to sell The Gambia as a destination,” Mr Drammeh said.

He added that they are very impressed with the arrivals to The Gambia as a tourist destination.

Kamil Juwa, head of operations at Rainbow Tour, said they would continue their operation in earnest as they think The Gambia is the best destination in the whole of West Africa.

“We advertise about The Gambia in Poland and we also have strong publicity in the internet, as well as organising a conference in Poland to talk about The Gambia,” he said.

Back to top

Tunisian Olive Oil to Be Labelled From 2016

12 November 2015 – Tunis Afrique Presse (Tunis) — Tunisia’s flagship product, olive oil will be officially labelled from 2016, Director at the Technical Centre of Food Industry (CTAA) Narjes El Hammar said on Thursday.

Speaking at a national seminar on olive oil held in Tunis, she added that the label will allow a better valuation of the olive growing sector and bring greater added value to the Tunisian product. It will also provide a comprehensive traceability system so as to impose the application of regulations and strengthen the confidence of olive oil consumers and buyers.

Back to top

Tunisia to Boost Training to Cater to Chinese Visitors

12 November 2015 – Tunis Afrique Presse (Tunis) — The Ministry of Tourism is turning one of its tourist training centres (8) into a centre specialising in tourist services for Chinese tourists, said Minister of Tourism Salma Elloumi.

Speaking to reporters, Thursday, on the sidelines of the 4th UNWTO International Conference on Tourism and the Media, the minister said the objective is to train agents specialised in services dedicated to Chinese tourists, of whom 100 million annually visit different parts of the world.

Back to top

Tunisia hosts UNWTO Conference On Tourism and the Media

12 November 2015 – Tunis Afrique Presse (Tunis) — The 4th International Conference on Tourism and the Media held by the World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), in association with the Ministry of Tourism and with support from CNN opened Thursday in Tunis.

Representatives of UNWTO member countries, major tourist companies, tour operators and hotel chains are taking part in this conference.

The meeting, which takes place four months after last June 26 terrorist attack on a hotel in Sousse, would help improve the image of the Tunisian destination and allow the country to conquer new markets as the sector is facing the most serious crisis in its history.

Back to top

Barbados to support Guyana in setting up its Hospitality Institute

Georgetown, GINA, November 11, 2015 – Guyana has invited the Director of the Hospitality Institute of Barbados to visit and help with the implementation of a phased approach to a local hospitality institute. This is according to Director, Guyana Tourism Authority (GTA) Indranauth Haralsingh.

Speaking with the Government Information Agency (GINA), Haralsingh explained that this same person completed the feasibility study for the local hospitality institute with funding and backing from the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB).

Whilst the feasibility study is completed, Guyana is still to do additional work on the hospitality institute that is desperately needed to build capacity, to train and help Guyanese, and make Guyana’s tourism industry more competitive, Haralsingh noted.

But whilst the country awaits this infrastructure, critical to making the industry far greater, Haralsingh pointed out that the GTA continues to facilitate training, and is in fact, one of the key agencies that lead in tourism training and capacity building locally.

For this year alone, he noted, the agency has trained hundreds of persons across Guyana, thus far, even as it has as part of its agenda some key training coming up. Recently, the GTA completed Dutch language training at the border at Moleson Creek. This effort saw Guyanese working with the Canawaima ferry including the security personnel, port health and customs and immigration officials among others being trained in conversation Dutch. Haralsingh explained that GTA also produced a booklet in conversation Dutch and an accompanying CD to assist with the training.

The agencies have also completed Spanish training with the front desk operators among others at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport, Haralsingh said. Moving forward, he said that in two weeks’ time, the agency is set to conduct some level of Portuguese language training at the border in Lethem.

Meanwhile, First aid and CPR were completed with the speedboat operators plying the Parika-Supenaam, Parika-Bartica and Vreed-en-Hoop – Stabroek route. Working in connection with the Maritime Administration Department (MARAD), GTA also completed training with boat captains for their licences.

And as it relates to educating the public on the importance of fostering tourism for the benefit of the country, Haralsingh explained that this is done through school talks and through the agencies’ participation at the local trade shows and fairs.

The agency is working with the Ministry of Tourism to have the Caribbean Tourism Organisation’s module for primary school implemented in the school system as part of pushing this agenda. At the level of the secondary school, this will be handled with the ministry as soon as next year, as a Caribbean Examination Council (CXC) approved tourism education curriculum will be implemented.

And for the public, he explained that what is being examined is a general programme, whereby the “War on bad manners,” campaign is revived and rolled-out all across Guyana, “so that every Guyanese can be a good salesman or saleswoman for our country.”

Back to top

Guyana to host renowned US media

Georgetown, GINA, November 7, 2015 – The Ministry of Tourism is set to host a “Familiarisation Tour” for select United States media, as part of a drive to showcase the unique attractions of Guyana to the US market. The ultimate aim of the exercise is to grow this market and bring visitors to the country.

Commenting on the FAM trip, Director, Guyana Tourism Authority (GTA), Indranauth Haralsingh, said that visitors from the US form just one of the key source markets for Guyana’s Tourism, as it brings approximately 42 percent of all visitors to Guyana. Hence the drive to further reinforce the significance of the country’s tourism potential to the US.

The FAM Trip which is scheduled to take place in a few weeks, will give opportunities for writers from the Huffington Post, USA Today, and National Geographic among others, to meet and enhance their understanding of Guyana’s visitor offerings.

The FAM trip is also a part of the goal to promote the country ahead of the key, 50th Anniversary celebrations, Haralsingh said.

JCD & Associates Limited, a renowned video producing company out of Trinidad and Tobago, which had worked for several US Networks and Travel Channels in the United Kingdom, also recently visited Guyana on a filming expedition, to promote the 50th anniversary.

Haralsingh explained that the production, which sought to give reason to come to Guyana for the celebration and activities, will commence during November and run until mid-January 2016.

But the Media Fam trip for selected international media from world-renowned publications and news agencies and advertisements, goes beyond just highlighting the promotion of Guyana’s 50th Anniversary celebrations. It is also a part of an aggressive marketing, implementation plan, aimed at bringing awareness to Guyana, under its new brand, “Guyana South America Undiscovered.”

To this end, Haralsingh explained there has been increased advertising with a focus on being in more niche markets and niche publications.

In this line, he said, just last month, officials from the Ministry of Tourism and GTA attended the first American Birding Expo in Ohio, to promote Guyana as a bird watching destination to the US population. The US has about the largest bird watching population in the world. Guyana is also being promoted at the British Bird Watching Fair.

As the Ministry of Tourism and GTA continue to collaborate to increase the Guyana South America Undiscovered sales distribution network, Haralsingh said that focus will also be on attending more trade fairs, including the ITB in Germany (Internationale Tourismus-Börse Berlin), the World Travel Market in Latin America and Argentina, and the Vakantiebeurs Utrecht Tourism and Leisure Trade Fair in Holland in January 2016.

Additionally, there is focus on aggressively attracting more film and documentary producers to Guyana. Haralsingh said that in addition to lining up a number of fishing, adventures and wild life documentaries and films for Guyana, between February and April of next year, Guyana will have a return of the filming of the US series, ‘Naked and Afraid’.

Some episodes of the series were filmed in Guyana this year and last year, and they were so successful that the producers are now doing the XL series, where the participants would be naked and alone for three months in Guyana, Haralsingh explained.

Back to top

Bid To Enhance Trade Ties With Sabah, Labuan

LABUAN, Malaysia Nov 8 (NNN-Bernama) — The Consulate General of Indonesia in Kota Kinabalu says it will identify bottlenecks to trade and new areas of trade with the aim of increasing two-way trade between the republic and Sabah and Labuan.

“The economic situation here is promising. We are looking at key sectors in Sabah like the booming oil and gas sector particularly in the oil refinery field which we feel we can encourage our entrepreneurs to venture into,” its economics consul Thoso Priharnowo said at a media luncheon here Saturday.

He said the consulate will hold the inaugural Indonesia Week on Nov 12-15 at Centre Point shopping mall in Kota Kinabalu, featuring Indonesian products, a fashion show by renowned Indonesian designer Ai Sharif and business-matching sessions.

The consulate in Kota Kinabalu is empowered to look after Labuan, Bukit Garam, Lahad Datu, Sandakan and districts in the northern parts of Sabah, he added.

Back to top

Indonesia To Highlight Agreement In Services At APEC

JAKARTA, Nov 11 (NNN-ANTARA) — The Indonesian government will highlight the cooperation agreement for trade in services at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Manila, the Philippines, on Nov 18-19.

The statement was delivered by Trade Minister Thomas Lembong while updating Vice President Jusuf Kalla on Indonesias preparations for the APEC summit here.

“The main agenda that had been proposed and undertaken last year was an agreement for trade in services,” Lembong stated.

A ministerial-level cooperation agreement had been reached in the Asia-Pacific region through the APEC Service Agreement. “We often discuss trade in terms of goods. In fact, trade in services is large and important for the community,” he pointed out.

The minister remarked that the government is making efforts to boost trade in services, considering the fact that trade in goods has developed optimally.

“We are competitive in the trade of goods. The trade in jewelry, crafts, and automotive components has grown significantly,” he affirmed.

Earlier, the Indonesian government had planned to raise three main issues at the APEC summit scheduled to be held in Manila, the Philippines on November 18-19.

The statement was delivered by Foreign Affairs Minister Retno L.P. Marsudi while reporting to Vice President Jusuf Kalla here on Tuesday.

“I and the Trade Minister Thomas Lembong have reported to the vice president on Indonesias preparations for the APEC summit to be held in Manila on November 18-19,” Marsudi remarked here on Tuesday.

The three major issues to be highlighted by the Indonesian delegation are commodities that support sustainable development, infrastructure cooperation, and maritime collaboration.

“These are ongoing issues that we plan to raise during the summit,” she emphasized. Marsudi and Lembong will leave for Manila to attend a series of ministerial-level meetings on the sidelines of the APEC summit. Vice President Kalla and his entourage are scheduled to undertake a working visit to the Philippines on Nov 17-20.

Back to top

Gulf Festival To Kick Off In Kuwait

KUWAIT, Nov 9 (NNN-KUNA) – Gulf Festival, “Khaleej Al-Noor” will kick off on Tuesday, under the patronage of the Crown Prince of Kuwait, Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, with participation of youths from all Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states.

This festival reflects the political leadership approach, towards the youth locally and strengthens bonds among them in other GCC states, Chairman of the Organising Committee, Homoud Fulaiteh, said.

The three-day festival will include many activities and field visits, as well as, a fair for the youth handicrafts, Deputy Director General of the Public Authority for Youth and Sports for Youth Affairs (PAYS), Fulaiteh, added.

PAYS, under the leadership of its Chairman and Director General, Sheikh Ahmad Al-Mansour Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, has given this gathering a special care, which will present, at the inauguration ceremony, an operetta titled: “Khaleej Al-Noor” that will be held at the youth centre in Ardhiya.

For her part, organiser of one of the festival’s pavilions, Nawal Al-Shammari, said, the exhibition is ready to receive its guests, where it has been divided into six sections, each country will present a number of its original old craft, in order to identify the heritage in the Gulf region.

Back to top

Qatar’s Ambassador In U.S. Lectures On Future Of Tourism

WASHINGTON, Nov 9 (NNN-QNA) – Qatar’s Ambassador to the United States, Mohamed Jaham Al Kuwari, stressed that, investment in tourism is part of Qatar’s vision of sustainable development and economic diversification, noting that, growth in the development of infrastructure projects has contributed to the development of tourism, including the planning to construct new hotels, the establishment of the Doha Exhibition and Convention Centre and the opening of the Hamad International Airport.

This came during a lecture entitled: “The Role of Tourism in the Development of Qatar’s Economy” delivered by Ambassador Al Kuwari, before a number of lecturers and students in the graduate programme in the field of Hospitality (Hospitality Programme) at the U.S. University of Georgetown, as part of the Qatari diplomatic efforts, to introduce Qatar in the United States, based on Qatar National Tourism sector strategy 2030.

Qatar National Tourism sector strategy 2030, aims to achieve economic development through supporting small and medium-sized companies, encouraging entrepreneurship and enhancing the role of the private sector, Al Kuwari said.

By 2030, this strategy is expected to contribute to increasing the tourism sector’s quota in GDP, to nearly double, thanks to the government and private sector’s investment in the field of tourism, Al Kuwari said.

He pointed out that, the goal is to attract about 7 million visitors to Qatar from all over the world by 2030, he added.

The Qatari Ambassador spoke about the role of Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA), in the development of the tourism sector in the country, through planning, organisation and promotion of the status of Qatar as a global tourist destination.

Our goal in the next ten years is to put Qatar on the world tourism map, he added, referring to the creation of some sixty new initiatives in the tourism sector, in addition to the opening of branches of QTA in London and Paris. He praised Qatar Airways’ expansion in seven major US cities.

He also touched on the unique initiatives of Qatar’s Museum of Islamic Art, which reflects the genius combination of modern construction and originality of Islamic architecture.

Al Kuwari also stressed the role of tourism in bringing people together and spreading the culture of tolerance and dialogue of civilisation and openness to the other, especially in a world where conflicts and wars prevail, saying, what is happening is not a clash of civilisations but due to the ignorance of those civilisations.

He also highlighted the role of sport in the development of the tourism sector, pointing out to Qatar’s efforts in hosting major sports events, as part of Qatar National Tourism Sector Strategy.

In this context, Al Kuwari praised Doha’s efforts, aimed to attract tourists through hosting international conferences and exhibitions, in addition to the annual celebrations such as “Qatar Summer” Festival.

Al Kuwari then invited the attendees to watch a documentary about the role of tourism in Qatar.

Back to top

Indonesia To Boost Tourism to Underdeveloped Regions

JAKARTA, Nov 11 (NNN-ANTARA) — The Indonesian government is trying to encourage tourism in underdeveloped areas as it also has the potential to earn revenue for the country.

“We hope that by improving tourism in such areas, we would be able to overcome some fundamental issues hindering regional development and earn valuable foreign exchange,” Director of Resource Development and Environment, the Ministry of Underdeveloped Region and Transmigration, Faizul Ishom, said in a press release.

Faizul said tourism has become one of the excellent areas for many countries to increase their sources of income, besides oil and gas and taxes.

“Indonesia was no exception as it is a developing country with a huge potential for tourism in areas that are still lagging behind,” Faizul said.

According to Faizul, the underdeveloped areas have the potential to attract foreign tourists to Indonesia.

The government, through the Indonesian Tourism Promotion Board, has a program to build upon the tourism potential of underdeveloped areas by encouraging green tourism, creative tourism and lean season tourism.

“We will attract foreign tourists to visit the underdeveloped areas. We have chosen marine tourism to sell as a tourism destination. It has a major potential in eastern Indonesia which offers a lot of marine tourism destinations. It can even emerge as the national tourism icon,” said Faizul.

Tourism destinations such as Raja Ampat, Alor Island and Ora Island in Central Maluku can be used as iconic tourist attractions.

Besides, eastern Indonesia, consisting of West Nusa Tenggara, East Nusa Tenggara and North Maluku, is largely categorized as an underdeveloped area.

In fact, these areas have a tremendous tourism potential that can be developed to boost the local economy.

Back to top

Tourism Malaysia To Focus On ASEAN Tourists

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia Nov 14 (NNN-Bernama) — Tourism Malaysia will focus on tourist arrivals from ASEAN countries to boost the tourism industry and achieve the target of 30.5 million tourists next year.

Tourism Malaysia director-general Mirza Mohammad Taiyab said this was because tourists from ASEAN countries were the biggest contributors to the tourism sector in the country, besides tourists from China and India.

“The ASEAN market remained the main contributor to our tourism sector. In 2014 alone, 20.4 million tourists from ASEAN countries had visited Malaysia, which is 74.3 per cent of the total 27.4 million tourists who came here.

“We believe via this tourism approach, our trade and investments between the ASEAN countries will also grow and at the same time, we can contribute to the country’s economy,” he told the ASEAN Celebrity Explore Quest Malaysia 2015 press conference here yesterday.

The nine-day programme – organised for the third time – is participated by 94 participants consisting of celebrities, journalists and travel agencies from ASEAN countries.

Back to top

Egypt To Revive Tourism In Sharm El-Sheikh

CAIRO, Egypt, Nov 12 (NNN-MENA) – Egypt said on Wednesday, it had taken a series of measures to encourage tourism in Sharm el-Sheikh resort, after a Russian air plane crashed over North Sinai.

In a sign to boost tourism in the city, Egyptian President, Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi, paid a surprise visit to Sharm el-Sheikh resort on Wednesday, to inspect the security situation.

In a TV interview, Sisi urged not to jump to conclusions over the Russian plane crash amid ongoing investigation.

The plane crash killed all 224 people on board, mostly Russians, which has led Britain and Russia to suspend their flights to Sharm el-Sheikh and to evacuate their nationals from the prominent resort over a possibility that a bomb was behind the tragedy.

That has handed a heavy blow to Egypt’s already-suffering tourism sector, one of the main sources of its national income and foreign currency.

Sources said, an incoming meeting of the Egyptian cabinet will be held in the Red Sea resort, a message to the whole world that Egypt’s tourist destinations are safe.

Tourism Minister, Hisham Zaazou, also said he already had a plan to bring the tourist sector out of its current crisis after the flight suspensions.

Zaazou also said, the cabinet allocated some five million U.S. dollars from the tourism fund to support tourism and convey the true situation in Egypt.

“Tourism movement will return to normal, after making sure that all the measures are taken at Egypt’s airports and shunning claims by international media, which said that it is possible that the plane was brought down by a bomb,” he said.

Egypt also plans to further boost tourism in its domestic and other Arab and Gulf markets, the minister said.

Back to top

Historic Al-Hudaibiya Mosque to be rebuilt

Friday 13 Nov 2015 – Jeddah, (IINA) – The historic Al-Hudaibiya Mosque will be demolished and rebuilt by the Islamic Affairs Ministry and the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTNH) to reflect its significance in Islam, Arab News reported.

The mosque was built on the site where the Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) signed a peace agreement in 628 CE with the pagans of Makkah, which was called the Treaty of Hudaibiya. The area is on the western side of Makkah.

Director General of the SCTNH in Makkah Faisal Al-Shareef said that an experienced engineering firm would be brought in to handle the project by using the latest scientific techniques and materials.

The SCTNH and the Al-Turath Heritage Foundation have completed the restoration of 21 mosques across the Kingdom. The SCTNH has also set up a project to restore other mosques in cooperation with the Islamic Affairs Ministry in order to highlight their religious importance.

Back to top

Paraguayan president opens largest mosque in Ciudad del Este

Tuesday 10 Nov 2015 – Asuncion (IINA) – Paraguayan President Horacio Manuel Cartes on Monday inaugurated the largest mosque in Ciudad del Este, the second largest city in Paraguay.

The French AJIB.fr website reported that the opening ceremony of the mosque saw the participation of a large number of political officials and diplomats. The new mosque, which was built in the middle of an Islamic center called “Righteous Caliphs”, cost one million dollars.

Back to top

Abu Dhabi to host first Int’l Date Palm Exhibition

Wednesday 11 Nov 2015 – Abu Dhabi, (IINA) – Organizers of Global Food Marketplace (SIAL) Middle East have announced that the inaugural edition of Abu Dhabi International Date Palm Exhibition (ADIDPE 2015), the world’s only dedicated business-to-business event for the date palm, will run from December 7 to 9 at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC), WAM reported.

The event, to be held under the patronage of Sheikh Mansour Al-Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs and Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority, will be co-located with the Middle Eastern Food Exhibition, SIAL Abu Dhabi 2015.

ADIDPE 2015 will serve as a dedicated platform for trading in dates, the most widely cultivated fruit crop in the UAE, it will showcase different varieties of dates from top global producing countries, the event will draw participation of 200 exhibitors from 15 countries, six national pavilions and more than 2,000 trade delegates and suppliers from around the world.

The Hosted Buyer Program will serve as the key attraction of the event, bringing more than 50 top importers of date palm fruit and associated products from Malaysia, India, Jordan, Pakistan, Italy, and the United Kingdom, among others, to meet with exhibitors and discuss their requirements.

Director of SIAL Middle East Fadi Saad said: “We are delighted to present the inaugural edition of Abu Dhabi International Date Palm Exhibition that will establish the emirate’s growing status as a global hub for the date trade along with the hugely successful business-to-consumer event ‘Emirates International Date Palm Festival’. In convening ADIDPE 2015 under the umbrella of SIAL Middle East, we seek to offer producers of dates a unique opportunity to meet face-to-face with the right buyers, purchasing managers and decision makers from the global date palm industry on one dedicated platform”.

He also noted that ADIDPE 2015 is extensively supported by the strategic partner, Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority, and the headline sponsor, Ministry of Presidential Affairs, and that the event is jointly organized by SIAL Middle East and Khalifa International Date Palm Award.

Back to top

ASEAN Islamic community can be role model for world

Wednesday 11 Nov 2015 – Bangi (IINA) – Malaysia’s Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Dr Asyraf Wajdi Dusuki said an ASEAN Islamic community with moderate values and full of civility can serve as a good example to the world so that Islam will be seen in a more positive light, BERNAMA reported.

He said the concept of “wasatiyyah” (moderation) championed by Malaysia as the ASEAN chair for this year, was very close to the Southeast Asian community as it subscribed to moderate values and tolerance.

“These are the values that we should be promoting so that the world could view Islam more positively and make ASEAN a role model,” Dr Asyraf told reporters after opening the ASEAN Community Conference under the theme of “Islamic Civilization in ASEAN Community: Challenges and Hopes” here on Wednesday.

He said ASEAN’s potential could be immense as a community, despite its cultural diversity, possessed the same foundation that could make the ASEAN region stronger in the economic, socio-political and overall development contexts.

“I feel that with the values that are central to the lives of the people of Southeast Asia, we can take ASEAN to greater heights,” Asyraf said.

However, he added, ASEAN, with the biggest Muslim population in the world, at 257 million, today also faced various challenges, especially extremist and radical elements which had infiltrated the community.

“This is the biggest challenge to be tackled. The most important thing is positive Islamic civilizational shift and knowledge that is true, and not understanding of Islam based on irrational sentiments,” Asyraf said.

Back to top

Azerbaijan lifts entry visa for UAE nationals

Thursday 12 Nov 2015 – Baku, Azerbaijan (IINA) – The Government of Azerbaijan has exempted citizens of the UAE from the entry visa requirement, WAM reported.

Ahmed Al-Dhaheri, acting undersecretary for Consular Affairs at UAE’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said that the ministry received a memorandum from the government of Azerbaijan, which included the resolution of the visa waiver for the UAE’s citizens.

Citizens of the UAE will obtain a 30-day visa on arrival at any of the international airports in the Republic of Azerbaijan for US$50.

Al-Dhaheri added that the visa waiver resolution underscored the growing ties between the two countries, which will further boost joint cooperation in the future.

It is noteworthy that Sheikh Mohammad Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, visited Azerbaijan capital city of Baku to meet with President Ilham Aliyev. The talks from his visit resulted in economic and emergency readiness agreements between the two countries, The National reported.

Back to top

IDB approves $593 million for Kazakhstan, Gabon, Benin, Turkey

Thursday 12 Nov 2015 – Jeddah, (IINA) – The Islamic Development Bank’s (IDB) Board of Executive Directors has approved on Wednesday new financing, amounting to a total of $593.5 million, for development projects in Kazakhstan, Gabon, Benin and Turkey.

A total of $478,000 were also approved in grants from the IDB Waqf Fund for three educational and vocational projects. These projects will benefit Muslim communities in three non-member countries – France, Rwanda and Singapore.

The Board also discussed a technical assistance grant of $270,000 approved by IDB’s President for financing the feasibility study for phase II of Lipatko-Gourma regional livestock development project, which includes Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger.

The approved new financing projects say that $249.5 million will be dedicated for the contribution to the rehabilitation of irrigation and drainage project in Kazakhstan, which aims at enhancing agriculture and reducing the import of foodstuff.

The financing also includes $210.4 million for contribution to two major projects in Gabon, $109.2 million to support primary healthcare services, and $93.2 million to support the educational development as well as $73.8 million for upgrading the Beterou-Tchaourou-Nigeria border road project in Benin, in addition to $59 million for the electric locomotive project (2TU-0148) in Turkey, which will bring the total funding for this project to $278.9 million.

The Board meeting also discussed reports on IDB’s work plan for the next three years, the proposed budget for the new fiscal year 2016, as well as a report on resource mobilization plan and Sukuk issuance strategy for 2016.

Back to top

Maldives Parliament approves new Tourism Minister

Sun.mv – November 10, 2015 – The parliament has approved Moosa Zameer as Minister of Tourism, and Adam Shareef Umar as Minister of Defence and National Security.

Shareef’s appointment was passed with a majority of 66 out of 68 votes, while Zameer’s appointment was passed with the unanimous vote of the members present at today’s sitting.

Shareef and Zameer were appointed as ministers on 28 October 2015.

The post of Minister of Tourism has been vacant since Ahmed Adeeb was appointed Vice President on 22 July 2015.

Minister of Environment and Energy Thorig Ibrahim was appointed Acting Minister of Tourism following Adeeb’s arrest on suspicion of involvement in an assassination attempt on President Yameen.

Back to top

Maldives among nine countries to achieve maternal mortality goal

Sun.mv – November 13, 2015 – A new study has revealed that the fifth Millennium Development Goal (MDG), to reduce maternal mortality by 75 percent by 2015, was achieved by only nine countries.

MDGs were eight international developmental goals set at the 2000 Millennium Summit to accelerate global progress in development.

A study conducted by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the University of Massachusetts has shown that the only countries to achieve the fifth goal are Maldives, Bhutan, Cabo Verde, Cambodia, Iran, Laos, the Mongolia, Rwanda, and Timor-Leste.

WHO said that the global reduction in maternal mortality in this period was 44 percent.

Nearly 99 percent of all maternal deaths worldwide occur in developing countries.

Government said back in August 2015 that Maldives had achieved most, or six or seven MDGs.

The eight MDGs were to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger, achieve universal primary education, promote gender equality, reduce child mortality, improve maternal health, combat HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases; ensure environmental sustainability, and develop a global partnership for development.

Back to top

Lost ancient island found in the Aegean

İZMİR – Doğan News Agency – A lost island where the ancient city of Kane was located has been found by geo-archaeologists in the Aegean province of İzmir’s Dikili district. The island was mentioned in ancient sources.

During surface surveys carried out near Dikili’s Bademli village, geo-archaeologists examined samples from the underground layers and learned one of the peninsulas there was in fact an island in the ancient era, and its distance from the mainland was filled with alluviums over time.

With a comprehensive research project carried out by geo-archaeologists from Cologne University and led by the German Archaeology Institute, the relation of harbors on Dikili’s Karadağ peninsula was examined.

Archaeologists from universities in İzmir, Karlsruhe, Manisa, Munich, Kiel, Cologne, Rostock and Southampton, prehistorians, geographers, topographers and geophysics experts worked on the research project. Following the works, the quality of the harbors in the ancient city of Kane was revealed. Also, the location of the third island, which was lost, has been identified.

Archaeologist Prof. Felix Pirson said, considering the architectural remnants and ceramics in the village, they had discovered the location of Kane on the peninsula in Bademli village.

“It had been a matter of discussion if the islands here were the Arginus Islands or not until our research began. But then we revealed that the ancient Kane was located on an island in the past. The strait between this island and the land was filled with alluviums and created this peninsula. We will get more evident info after examining the geological samples.”

Within the scope of this project, Celal Bayar University Archaeology Department member Güler Ateş said they had discovered the location of the third island mentioned in ancient sources.

He also said they had also revealed the quality of harbors in the ancient city of Kane, adding, “It is understood that this place was like a way station among important routes such as Lesbos and Adramytteion (today Edremit) in the north and Elaia (Zeytindağ), the main harbor of the ancient city of Pergamon, in the south.”

The ancient city of Kane, which gave its name to the peninsula, was known as a harbor, chosen by the Romans during the war against Antiochas III in 191-190 B.C.

The famous battle of Arginusae took place in 406 B.C. in the southwest of the ancient city between the Athenians and Spartans. In the war, even though the Athenians won a victory against the Spartans, their commander was tried when they returned to the country and executed because they did not help the wounded soldiers and did not bury the dead.

Back to top

Bosphorus Film Festival set to begin

ISTANBUL – Hurriyet Daily News – The 3rd International Bosphorus Film Festival, organized by the Boğaziçi Cinema Association, is set to begin on Nov. 20.

According to a written statement made by the association, the festival will also host education workshops.

Films will compete in the Best National Short Fiction, Best National Short Documentary, Best International Short Fiction and the Best International Short Documentary categories during the festival.

The purpose of the festival is to contribute to the development of motion pictures that have ethical, esthetical and technical integrity in Turkey and in the world as well as to support young producers and directors.

The head of the festival committee, Ogün Şanlıer, said they had received 2,621 applications from 11 countries in the national and international film categories.

Among films to compete at the International Feature Film Competition, “Journey To The Shore,” “Borderless,” “Our Every Day Life” and “Johnny Walker” will make their Turkey premiere with the participation of the films’ crews on Nov. 21, 24, 25 and 26, respectively.

In the short film category, six films will make their Turkey premieres while one will make its Istanbul premiere.

“One & Two,” “Chasuke’s Journey,” “Se Dio Vuole,” “Heavenly Nomadic,” “The Lamb” and “Wondrous Boccaccio” will be screened in the documentary category of the festival.

The festival will also have education workshops which handle the film production process with all its details to be given by directors Yamaç Okur, Derviş Zaim, Ümit Ünal and actress Dolunay Soysert.

Nine films by Miyazaki

The festival will screen nine films by world renowned Japanese manga and animation artist Hayao Miyazaki under a special section.

The selection of the artist will include films made between 1984 and 2013, including “The Wind Rises,” “Ponyo,” “Howl’s Moving Castle,” “Spirited Away,” “Porco Rosso,” “Kiki’s Delivery Service,” “My Neighbor Totoro,” “Castle in the Sky” and “Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind.”

Croatian director Lea Vidakovic’s award-winning film “The Vast Landscape,” Slovenian Julia Kolenakova’s “The Predators of Transylvania,” Russian Svetlana Andrianova’s “A Little Star,” German Florian Grolig’s “In the Distance,” Estonian Riho Unt’s “The Master” and Lithuanian Ignas Meülinas’ “Woods” are among the short animation films to be shown in the festival.

The film screening venues will be the Atlas Sinemaları, Majestik and Tarık Tunaya Movie Theaters on the European side and Tepe Nautilus Cinemaximum on the Asian side.

The festival will end on Nov. 27.

Back to top

Treasure trove of ‘ancient’ archaeology tucked away in Gaza

GAZA – Reuters – Nafez Abed’s cramped workroom is filled with sculptures and mosaics with patterns from the Byzantine, Greek and Roman periods. It is an emporium of Middle Eastern antiquity tucked away in Gaza. And none of it is real.

Abed, 55, is a self-taught archaeologist, preserver and restorer who crafts reproductions of ancient pieces he finds or has seen in museums. He gives his work so much authenticity that international experts have been wowed by his skills.

A fair-haired, intense man, he spends almost all his time in his studio, built on the roof of his unfinished house in a refugee camp in northern Gaza. Its windows are covered in plastic to keep out the rain that blows in from the nearby Mediterranean.

“The Museum of Mosaics” is written on the wooden door that leads into his workroom. On a large table in the middle of the dark room stands a reproduction of a statue of Alexander the Great, looking as if it truly dated from 300 B.C., amid oil-fired lamps and copies of coins dating back more than 2,500 years.

“My fixation with archaeology runs in my veins,” said the father of seven, who trained as a blacksmith before deciding 30 years ago to dedicate himself to a more refined art.

“I spend more than 10 hours a day here, sitting among my works and reproductions,” he said with a sense of wistfulness. His room was lit by one small lamp, plugged into an extension cable that stretches from the floor below.

It was Abed’s father who got him started, imbuing him with a love of antiquity and the rich ancient history of Gaza, where the blinded Biblical hero Samson lived.

Over the millennia, Gaza has served as a trading port for ancient Egyptians, Philistines, Romans and Crusaders. Beneath its sands lie ruins from Alexander the Great’s siege of the city, Emperor Hadrian’s visit, Mongol raids and the arrival of the Islamic armies 1,400 years ago.

Napoleon and the Ottomans camped here and British armies passed through in World War I.

Abed frequently tours Gaza’s beaches looking for ancient remains. Sometimes he restores pieces he finds and other times he uses clay in a reproduction, treating the material in such a way that it looks to be centuries old.

Via extensive reading on archaeology in Arabic and English, he has developed a range of techniques for restoration and aging. To a visitor’s eye, everything looks ancient.

“Some clients, some visitors, including scientists who have visited me, thought some of the pieces were real before I told them they were imitations made by own hand,” he said.

Museum Quality

As his skills grew, he gained wider acclaim. By presidential decree, he was appointed deputy director of rehabilitation at the Palestinian Ministry of Archaeology in 1995 and he has also been in charge of the mosaic department.

He has travelled to Jericho and Jenin in the West Bank to work with Italian and Dutch experts on archaeological sites there, and made trips to the Louvre in Paris and museums in Arles and Geneva to help with restorations.

In 2005, the head of the Geneva museum visited Gaza with his wife and talked at length with Abed about his skills. “He offered me a job at the museum, but I turned it down,” said Abed, making clear his regret. “It was a mistake.”

In 2007, the Islamist group Hamas seized control of Gaza. Since then, traveling abroad has become much harder and life inside the territory has grown tougher, with restrictions on the import of goods and a series of short wars with Israel.

In his studio, Abed works intensely on a range of mosaics. One depicts a beautiful woman riding a charging bull, a copy of an original based in Naples, Italy.

Another set of seven mosaics show the ancient gates to Palestine and there are also reproductions of pieces he has seen while visiting the Netherlands and France.

Most Gazans cannot afford his works, but Abed has a few local clients, including hotel owners and other wealthy people who want to decorate their homes with ancient-looking artifacts. While that is something, business is not as it once was.

“I used to be visited by foreigners, by consuls and ambassadors, by international businessmen and tourists,” said Abed. “There are no foreigners nowadays. The situation got bad.”

Back to top

Kültepe Tablets open Kayseri to the world

KAYSERİ – Anadolu Agency – The inclusion of 5,000-year-old Kültepe tablets in the UNESCO Memory of the World Register in October has attracted the interest of international academics and historians to the ancient city.

The kiln tablets, considered the earliest written documentation of life in Anatolia, were unearthed during archaeological excavations on the Kültepe-Kaniş-Karum mound in the Central Anatolian province of Kayseri.

Professor Fikri Kulakoğlu, an Ankara University Archaeology Department academic and the head of the Kültepe excavations, said the Kültepe Tablets had been registered as the common heritage of humanity.

He said internationally renowned archaeology experts, academics and historians wanted to come to Kayseri to see the unique tablets, noting that it had made a great contribution to the city’s promotion worldwide.

“Lots of people who never knew the existence of Kayseri now know the city. Kültepe is being discussed on international platforms. People will come to Kayseri from various countries to see Kültepe. We will see it more in the coming years. Academics have changed their summer and travel programs to see Kültepe. We have been working and organizing symposiums to promote the Kültepe Tablets for years but were not able to get a result. Now with the inclusion of the tablets in UNESCO, we have succeeded in our promotional activities,” the professor said.

Kulakoğlu said the Kültepe Tablets were registered by UNESCO because they were the biggest cuneiform tablets in the history of mankind and that they were special in terms of their number and content.

“The Kültepe tablets are completely owned by the private sector, private individuals. The content of the tablets is 99 percent commercial. They are not official state documents; they are the archive of free traders. In this term, they are the earliest private sector documents. Therefore, the tablets feature the feelings of traders at that time. Thanks to these tablets, we can get information about the socio-cultural structure of people who lived 5,000 years ago. It’s not just shopping; we can see what they went through in their daily life. It is not possible to get such information in the state archives,” said Kulakoğlu.

All subsequent excavations in Kültepe will be carried out under the inspection of UNESCO, he said, noting that the Culture and Tourism Ministry would also allocate more funds for the digs.

Restorations to be made

Kulakoğlu said they expected Kültepe to attract visitors from around the world, adding that the works of art would be taken under protection and that restorations would be conducted to improve visits at the site.

Kulakoğlu said they would collaborate with the Kayseri Governor’s Office and the Kayseri Metropolitan Municipality.

“We will highlight some features to draw people’s interest and restore them. People will want to see Kültepe when visiting Kayseri and cultural tourism will progress in the city. Merchants and citizens will also take the advantage of tourist visits,” Kulakoğlu said.

Back to top

Inns become beauty centers in the town of fairy chimneys

NEVŞEHİR – Doğan News Agency – Turkey’s first rock-carved underground mud bath will serve in the Cappadocia region, as local inns, which served as lemon storage facilities in the past, have been reorganized into an new tourist attraction.

The underground mud bath center, which will host its guests accompanied with experts, features baths, mineral water and fish.

The founders of the center, Taner Özkaradeniz and Burak Yüksel, said the facility would have a significant place among Cappadocia’s tourism alternatives.

Özkaradeniz said they had reorganized three inns to establish the center, adding it would be the first of its kind in the field of health tourism. Besides the bath pool, the 2,000-square-meter facility offers a warm water pool, doctor fish, shopping and cafés.

Cappadocia’s rock-carved inns have a significant place in the region, which was formed with the effect of lava spread by the Hasan and Erciyes mountains 60 million years ago, and are generally used as museums or storage.

With the approval of the Health Ministry, tourism manager Özkaradeniz and constructor Yüksel have turned three of those inns into the mud bath facility.

“Besides hot air balloons, Turkish nights and safari tours, the mud bath will be an alternative tourism field in the region,” they said.

Özkaradeniz said they had been operating mud baths in their facilities in the western province of Muğla’s Dalyan district and the southern province of Antalya for many years.

“Three or four years ago, we searched the places in Turkey for mud baths and decided on the Cappadocia region because it has been hosting foreign guests all the time. The region’s fairy chimneys and inns are well-known. We found these inns, which were lemon storage places, and established the facility,” said Özkaradeniz.

He said the mud in their pool was the first product certified an “inorganic” product in Turkey by the Health Ministry, and continued:

“It is movable. This mud is used in big hospitals such as the Çapa Hospital in Turkey for the treatment of rheumatism diseases. As well as these diseases, it is used in the treatment of eczema, acne, varix and cellulite and in cosmetics. This is why 1-1.5 million tourists host mud baths a year. Here, we expect to host 200,000 local and foreign guests in the first year. Russian and European tourists mainly come to Dalyan and Antalya. The tourist profile is different here. There are lots of far eastern tourists. We know that they are interested in cosmetics. We plan to host them in our facility.”

Back to top

Tutong District Ethnic Heritage, Cultural and Arts Day Launched

Tuesday, 03 November 2015 BruDirect.com TUTONG: The Tutong Ethnic Heritage House at Sungai Basong Recreation Park has the potential to become a community heritage and cultural centre in the Tutong District. It can be brought to the forefront for local and overseas tourists as part of efforts to support the district’s target to become a Destination District.

The Minister of Home Affairs, Yang Berhormat Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Kerna Dato Seri Setia Dr. Haji Awang Abu Bakar bin Haji Apong, stated this in an interview at the launching ceremony of the Tutong District Ethnic Heritage, Cultural and Arts Day which took place yesterday morning.

The Minister of Home Affairs expressed his confidence that such an initiative can enhance product capability and quality as well as sustainable and progressive tourism management. According to Yang Berhormat, apart from opening up job and business opportunities to the local community, the initiative will also be able to increase the country’s economy through tourism based resources.

Yang Berhormat Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Kerna Dato Seri Setia Dr. Haji Awang Abu Bakar said that the launching of the Heritage Day will not only provide a venue for tourism but is hoped to enhance the image specifically of the ethnic groups in Tutong District to be introduced to the local and overseas tourists. He also hoped that with the increase in tourism based events, it will create job opportunities for the new generation which in itself can reduce the rate of unemployment in Brunei Darussalam as well as give a new face to Tutong District.

Earlier, The Minister of Home Affairs launched the Tutong District Ethnic Heritage, Cultural and Arts Day as well as officiated the ‘Selamat Datang’ or Welcome signboard for the Tutong Ethnic Heritage House.

The Tutong District Ethnic Heritage, Cultural and Arts Day is co-organised by the Mukim Pekan Tutong and the Mukim Keriam Consultative Councils, in association with the Tutong District Tourism Promotion and Coordination Body. Further support is provided by the Tutong District Office; the Department of Environment, Parks and Recreation of Tutong; and the Tourism Development Department, under the Ministry of Primary Resources and Tourism.

The cultural event is going to take place for the whole month of November 2015. Through the programme, visitors and tourists will have the opportunity to take a closer look at the atmosphere and way of life in the olden days of every tribe and community.

Also present were members of the Legislative Council, Yang Berhormat Orang Kaya Jaya Putera Dato Paduka Haji Mohd Taha bin Abdul Rauf, Penghulu of Mukim Keriam; and Yang Berhormat Awang Haji Ramli bin Haji Lahit, Penghulu of Mukim Telisai.

Back to top

2015 Wastra Borneo Exhibition Launched

Thursday, 12 November 2015 BruDirect.com BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN: The Wastra Borneo Exhibition 2015, which was launched yesterday at the Malay Technology Museum, will present the distinct facets of the development of Borneo textiles. Held in conjunction with the Museums Department’s Golden Jubilee celebration, the expo will run until January 31, 2016.

Officiating the expo as the guest of honour was the Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports, Yang Berhormat Pehin Datu Lailaraja Major General (Rtd) Dato Paduka Seri Haji Awang Halbi bin Haji Mohd Yussof.

The exhibition highlights the important role of textiles based on customary beliefs, motifs and lifestyle. It features a total of 144 collections of materials including headdress, lain tenunan’ in different patterns as well as textile manufacturing techniques from museums’ collection from across the Borneo with special highlight on designs from Brunei, Sabah, Sarawak and Kalimantan.

Among the participating museums are Brunei Museums Department, Sarawak Museum Department, Sabah Museum, Kapuas Raya Sintang West Kalimantan Museum, Mulawarman Museum East Kalimantan province and Lambung Magkurat Museum in South Kalimantan.

The launching ceremony commenced with the recitation of Surah Al-Fatihah and Doa Selamat followed by a welcoming remark by Pengiran Dr. Karim bin Pengiran Haji Osman, Director of the Museum Department, in his capacity as the chairman of the exhibition.

He highlighted that the term ‘Wastra’ refers to textile made by weaving natural or artificial fibres which are flexible. It refers to the material that has its own alluring values, especially in terms of design patterns and shapes.

The creation of textiles has blossomed along with the cultural development of the people, he added.

Pengiran Dr. Karim also emphasised that the exhibition features the development of Borneo textiles from basic materials such as barks to thread weaving to gold and silver thread weaving. It also showcases different woven motifs from simple themes to complex ones. The expo will also display Kain Tenunan Brunei creations with new motifs developed by Abdul Hafiz bin Haji Hasni, a recent graduate from Universiti Brunei Darussalam’s (UBD) Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences.

In an interview, Abdul Hafiz said he dreams of becoming a fashion designer and knowing that one of the processes for it is to learn more about textiles, he decided to focus his interest on Kain Tenunan Brunei as it is part of Brunei’s traditional culture and symbolises its national identity.

“Being able to produce new motifs, patterns and designs for Kain Tenunan Brunei, I hope I can contribute in promoting the beauty of Brunei’s heritage in the future,” he added.

The Wastra Borneo Exhibition 2015 will be open for members of the public until January 31, 2016 and the visiting hours are from 9am to 5pm from Saturday to Thursday as well as 9am to 11.30am and 2.30pm to 5pm every Friday.

Back to top

Sungai Basong Park Set to Attract More Visitors

Saturday, 14 November 2015 BruDirect.com SUNGAI BASONG, TUTONG: The Sungai Basong Recreational Park in the Tutong District is hoped will be elevated as one of the places of interest and destinations to visitors. Various efforts have, currently and will be implemented towards making the hope a realisation, among them with the construction of several huts and various facilities with tourism concept.

The construction of the facilities was carried out yesterday morning by members of the Mukim and Kampong Consultative Council of the Tutong District, with the cooperation of officers and staff of the Tutong District Office and the Tutong Branch of the Department of Environment, Parks and Recreations (JASTRE) as well as the Tutong District Tourism Promotion and Coordination Body and volunteers.

Among those taking part in the voluntary works were Yang Berhormat Awang Haji Ramli bin Haji Lahit, a member of the Legislative Council who’s also the Penghulu of Mukim Telisai and Haji Adnan bin Haji Adam, the Assistant Tutong District Officer.

Back to top

Dhaka airport plans walkway from airport to railway station

DHAKA, Nov 8, 2015 (BSS) – The government is going to construct a pedestrians’ tunnel from Airport Railway Station to Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport with the financing of Asian Development Bank (ADB).

This tunnel will help passengers to reach airport avoiding traffic jam. It will also connect the Haji Camp so that the pilgrims can reach the airport easily.

Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader said this while talking to journalists after a meeting of Dhaka Transport Coordination Authority (DTCA) at the Nagar Bhaban in the city today.

Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC) Mayor Sayeed Khokan and Sagufta Yasmin Emily were present at the meeting, said an official release.

Presided over by the minister, the 7th board meeting of DTCA approved building a flyover from Arambagh to the Karaniganj end of Babubazar Bridge.

The minister said the route of metrorail-1 has been finalized from airport to Kamalapur Railway Station through Kuril Flyover, US embassy, Rampura, Malibagh and Mouchak.

The route of metrorail-5 will be from Gabtali to Bhatra through Technical Crossing, Mirpur-1, Mirpur-10, Mirpur-14, Cantonment, Kamal Ataturk Avenue, Gulshan and Madani Avenue, he added.

Senior officials concerned were present at the meeting.

Back to top

UAE keen to set up world class hospital in Bangladesh

DHAKA, Nov 9, 2015 (BSS) – United Arab Emirates (UAE) is keen to set up a world standard hospital in Bangladesh. This was disclosed by UAE Ambassador to Bangladesh Dr Saeed Bin Hajar Al Shehi when he called on Health and Family Welfare Minister at his secretariat office here today, an official release said.

Rangunia in Chittagong has been selected primarily for establishing the hospital and an expert team of UAE so far visited the spot, it added.

Nasim described UAE as a faithful friend of Bangladesh and the initiative of establishing a world class hospital has reflected a friendly gesture of the country.

Both Bangladesh and UAE should work together for improving healthcare services for the benefit of the people of the two countries, he added.

Back to top

Dhaka-Chittagong expressway construction to start soon

DHAKA, Nov 12, 2015 (BSS) – Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader today said the construction work of Dhaka-Chittagong expressway will start soon.

The minister said the concerned authorities are framing design for the expressway for developing an advanced communication network between the capital Dhaka and port city Chittagong.

He further said that the construction work of Kanchpur 2nd Bridge, Meghna 2nd Bridge and Gomoti 2nd Bridge will be launched in the last week of the current month.

Quader disclosed this while addressing the 26th annual conference of Roads and Highways Engineers’ Society (RHES) at Sarak Bhaban in capital’s Tejgaon this noon.

“No political lobbying and request will be accepted for promotion and transfer in Roads and Highway Department (RHD). Only qualification will be counted in this regard,” he said, asking the secretary of the ministry to keep note of the matter.

Road Transport and Bridges secretary MAN Siddique, chief engineer of RHD Firoz Iqbal also addressed the function presided over by RHES president Aftab Hossain.

Back to top

Issuing Iraq visas for pilgrims starts

Ilam, Nov 14, IRNA – Head of Hajj and Pilgrimage Organization of Ilam province in the west of the country announced that Iraq visas are being issued for the pilgrims as of today.

Iraq has launched several temporary consulates in this province for that end, Gholam Reza Momayyez told IRNA.

Issuing visa for the pilgrims will continue till November 27, said the official. The official called on the pilgrims to go to consulate as five- or ten-member groups not individually.

Visa for each of pilgrims costs 30 dollars, he added. Every year a large number of pilgrims converge on the holy city of Karbala on the day of Arbaeen. In the past two years, the number was estimated to be more than 20 million.

Arbaeen marks the anniversary of the 40th day after the martyrdom of Imam Hussein (AS) and his companions in the Battle of Karbala in the year 61 after Hijra (680 AD). On this day, Shia Muslims all over the world mourn the martyrdom of Imam Hussein (AS) and his companions.

This year, Arbaeen falls on Wednesday, December 2.

Back to top

Post-sanctions Iran ready to attract foreign investment

Tehran, Nov 14, IRNA – The Third Summit Meeting of the Gas Exporting Countries Forum (GCEF) on November 23 in Tehran and the subsequent Iran Petroleum Conference (IPC) on November 28-29 to be held on the verge of removal of anti-Iran sanctions will turn the Islamic Republic to a magnet of foreign investment, said an official in the Ministry of Petroleum.

“Coordinating GECF member states’ policies as well as the bilateral meetings between heads of states and governments on the sidelines of the summit have added to significance of the Tehran convention,” Amir-Hossein Zamani-Nia, deputy minister for international affairs and trade told Shana.

In the IPC event, he added, some 50 projects to attract 150 billion dollars in investment will be unveiled.

“The financiers will be assured that Iran is a politically secure and stable hub for investment,” Zamani-Nia added.

Back to top

Iranian artist’s work hailed at Cleveland Foundation

Tehran, Nov 13, IRNA – Iranian artist Behrang Samadzadegan presented his new artworks “Heading Utopia” in a group exhibition on celebration of his works created during his residency at the US Cleveland Foundation.

He is the foundation’s Creative Fusion autumn 2015 resident artist working at its Zygote Press.

Creative Fusion is an urban-based, community-engaged residency program for international artists created by the foundation.

A visual artist from Tehran, Samadzadegan creates installations, videos, paintings and print-based works. His work is deeply rooted in community engagement through his investigations of social and cultural identity; investigating the historical documents and images that seek out the real truth in political and social imagery, reports Honaronline.ir as quoted by FT Daily.

His works explore themes of social and cultural identity through the “possibility and impossibility of the images,” he constructs. The transition of imagery, the concepts conveyed as well as the ones lost in the interpretation, is a major topic of exploration.

The Zygote Press, Cleveland Print Room and Waterloo Arts in the United States, all host receptions for their Creative Fusion artists.

“The dynamic presence of Behrang Samadzadegan in our shop and all the places he has visited is like a fresh and invigorating breeze – and it hits everyone who comes into contact with him,” said Zygote Press Executive Director Liz Maugans. “This intelligent artist who devours conversations with many who he connects with has been incredibly rewarding to me especially. He is well educated in historic and global views of how art works-and our community is grateful we had this time with him.”

In a statement on his exhibition that opened on November 6, Samadzadegan said: “My work is based on the idea of translation and how things are codified, particularly German cultural critic Walter Benjamin’s concepts and German classical scholar Friedrich Nietzsche’s ideas of mediocrity, as they relate to the ‘facts of aesthetics’.”

“A search for the truth sometimes results in mediocrity. Historically, the print medium is about publishing knowledge in the age of enlightenment. This circle of translation from fact, truth, document, images, aesthetics and now printmaking, are all mixed and judged in the scope of art. Art is always cursed with beauty, even when there are painful narratives and ideas.”


Offering an insight into the challenges of image-making, he said, “Many of the works, especially the prints, don’t convey any of the content of aesthetics or beauty. They all are information about historical facts appropriated from the contemporary society that I am living in.”

Samadzadegan, 36, is a graduate in painting from the Iran Art University of Tehran and has a master’s in fine arts from Tarbiat Modares University.

He is a member of the Association of Iranian Painters (AIP) and the visual editor of ‘Tehranavenue’ electronic magazine.

He has held numerous solo and group exhibitions in Iran and abroad, including ‘ Military Attendance’ (2006) at Golestan Art Gallery in Tehran and “Meeting with the Heterotopias, a selection from the Thessaloniki Biennale: One of Contemporary Art” (2008) at the Municipal Gallery of Larisa in Greece.

During his residency, Samadzadegan has been working with the drawing and painting departments at the Cleveland Institute of Art and the Shaker Heights Boys and Girls Club, and has visited Case Western Reserve University and St. Martin de Porre. He was part of a special panel discussion at MOCA Cleveland on November 9.

His exhibition will remain on view through November 21 at Zygote Press.

Creative Fusion consists of two-, three-month residencies in Cleveland in the spring and fall each year. Each residency period hosts up to six artists primarily from Asia, the Middle East, Africa, South America, New Zealand and Australia. Invited artists get the opportunity to develop new work and share a contemporary view of their culture.

Back to top

Tourists from 80 countries visit Susa this year

Susa, Nov 13, IRNA – Governor of Susa Reza Nejati announced that 7,000 foreign tourists from 80 countries have visited this ancient town in north of Khuzestan province since beginning of the year.

He told IRNA that the tourists were from the US, Britain, France, the Netherlands, China, Japan, Malaysia, Austria, Taiwan, South Korea, Poland, Belgium, Russia, Czech Republic, Chile, Italia, Australia, Iraq and some Persian Gulf states.

He said that most of the visitors were from Italy, Germany and France this year.

Nejati underlined that development of tourism needs infra-structure installations and said that Susa, historically, religiously and naturally has a high potential for attracting tourists.

A group of French tourists also told IRNA that ancient sites of Susa are part of Iran’s ancient civilization, which are unique and historical building of Susa are among remarkable sites in the world architecture.

In the one day visit, the French tourists visited Susa historical castle, museum and garden as well as Apadana Palace, Cyrus Palace, Royal Town, World Temple of Choghazanbil and Jews Prophet Daniel mausoleum.

Susa is one of the most well-known cities of old world, which once was capital of Ilam government and winter capital of Achaemenid dynasty. The city has two world registered sites.

Susa is located 100 kilometers north of Ahvaz, capital of Khuzestan province. Last year more than 10,000 foreign tourists visited the town.

Back to top

Oman Air invests in modern art flight training centre

Oman Daily Observer – 12 November, 2015 – Oman Air will embark on a new phase in its expansion programme on November 18, when it starts construction of a state-of-art Oman Air Flight Training Centre (OAFTC). The centre will be located adjacent to Oman Air’s headquarters in Muscat.

Oman Air’s investment in this training facility will add an important milestone in the airline’s contribution towards the development of the Sultanate of Oman. The official signing ceremony of the construction project was held on November 5. Oman Air will invest RO 3 million in constructing and developing the OAFTC.

The completion of the facility is planned to take less than 12 months.

Chief Executive Officer of Oman Air, Paul Gregorowitsch, said: “The start of the construction of the Oman Air Flight Training Centre marks an important part in the airline’s development. It also represents a major step in the evolution of the Sultanate of Oman’s training capacity. The training centre will offer the very latest facilities and the highest levels of professional guidance. As Oman Air’s fleet and network expansion programme continues, the Oman Air Flight Training Centre will play an increasingly important role in our company’s operations.”

Amongst the facilities provided at the Oman Air Flight Training Centre will be cutting edge flight simulators. In addition to it being a requirement under international flight safety regulations, flight simulator training is essential to the provision of high quality training programmes for pilots. The flight simulators are being supplied by one of the world’s best-known simulator manufacturers, Canada-based TRU-Simulation and Training Company.

Back to top

UAE-India Economic Forum to boost investments in India

Khaleej Times – 13 November, 2015 – The inaugural UAE-India Economic Forum is all set to open its doors to delegates next week when it will play host to an elite gathering of senior dignitaries, government officials and business leaders including a distinguished panels of speakers who will discuss strategies and solutions to investor challenges in India.

The UAE India Economic Forum will be inaugurated by Minister of Finance for India, Arun Jaitley who will also give the opening address.

Several leading corporates with strong business interests in UAE and India have also endorsed the forum as sponsors and will contribute to the success of the forum with their insights and ideas on leveraging the potential for trade between both nations.

These include NMC Group, SBI Bank, IFFCO Group, Barjeel Geojit and Abu Dhabi Ports.

This two-day event will bring together over 200 delegates, consisting mainly of political and business leaders from UAE and India. The forum will encourage debate and dialogue on several areas of opportunity such as in Energy (traditional and renewable), infrastructure, financial services and tourism including medical and wellness tourism in addition to prospects in the Indian Digital space. Dr B. R. Shetty, CEO & MD, NMC Group and UAE Exchange: “As India and the UAE deepen and strengthen their already strong bilateral economic, social and cultural ties, there are many new avenues for collaboration between the countries, including innovation in energy, education, healthcare, financial services and other service based industries.

Our business across healthcare, financial services and food and beverage have a footprint across both the UAE and India. UAE Exchange, which carries the name of the UAE, is the single largest inward remitter responsible for ten percent of India’s inward remittances. We see a lot of synergies between our UAE and India businesses, and plan to make big investments in both countries in the months ahead.”

Back to top